Grabbed my pre-order code this afternoon on the way back from the comic shop. They're not too bad. Addicting, at least, if not always entertaining. There's not a whole lot to it. You just sort of sit there and hit the "A" button a lot. While some Fable music themes plays in the background. It's certainly nothing elaborate. I played for, I don' t know, maybe half an hour when I got home? Maybe more? Sort of lost track. Anyway, the point is, I'm already horribly in debt. ^_^
Let's just get this out of the way first. If you're not planning on buying Fable 2, DO NOT buy the pub games off of Xbox Live. I can't even begin to tell you how absurd that would be. They're not worth the $10. Now, if you ARE going to be buying Fable 2, then get your little butt (or big butt) down to your nearest GameStop (or surf to it with your browser) and pre-order the game so that you can get the code to download them for free. Otherwise, don't bother. If you're into Fable enough to spend hours playing the damn things (and there's only 3 very simple games), well, you know who you are (ie: you're me).
Do not expect to load up the game and win thousands of pieces of gold right away. It's going to take a LOT of time. As I said, I'm already at least 1,000 gold in debt, leaving me with just 1,000 profit right now. There's little skill to the game; it's mostly luck, and the game is a cruel mistress. The odds (at least at first) are horrific. But as you continue to play (and you're gonna have to play quite a lot), you'll unlock higher levels of the game where you can bet more money with better odds.
Now, to get the exclusive items from the pub to use in your Fable 2 game, you must enter and win the tournaments for all three games (multiple times/levels, I'm sure). Concept art gets unlocked as you go up in gambler level (simply by playing over and over and over again).
The first game is Fortune's Tower, a solitaire/pyramid sort of game. There are face cards numbered 1-7, and 4 Hero cards per deck. The idea is to build a tower of cards all the way to the 8th row and win the jackpot (and I can tell you now it will almost never happen, at least early on). So unlike Pyramid, the dealer is setting cards out to build the tower, you're not taking them away. First you place your bet, then the dealer deals out a gate card face down, and two face cards on top of that. The dealer adds up the amount shown on the face cards, and that's your pay out. Unless all the cards in a row are the same number, in which case the payout is doubled (no matter which row you except it on). The dealer continues, adding one more card in each row. The catch is that if a card is dealt on top of a similar card, it's a "misfortune" and you lose the game. There are ways around this: The first allows for the gate card to replace the bad card, but this won't always work (it could be the exact same card). The other is if a Hero card is dealt in that row, which automatically allows the row to count. The object is to get the highest pay out you can without a "misfortune," so you press your luck as far as you want, keeping in mind the cards in play and how many Heroes are in the deck. If you get a jackpot (which only occurs if you get all rows, and the gate card has not been used), the total of every card played is added together for a larger payout. As you go up in gambling level, there are fewer number cards, which increases your odds of winning a jackpot.
Let me just add that after you accept your payout from the "dealer," the game shows you what would have happened had you continued playing. This way you can see that had you continued playing, you dumb ass, you could have won the jack pot that you desperately needed to help pay off your debt.
Keystone is a combination of roulette and craps. Slots numbered 3-18 form and arch over the playing table. When the game begins, a stone is place in each arch slot, with 10 and 11, and 3 and 18 as the keystones. You place a bet on any of these stones, which remain until the arch falls and the game ends (so there are multiple rounds per game). During rounds you can also place single round bets on the "inside," based on rolls - all evens or all odds, triples, triple fives, black, red, low numbers, high numbers, etc. These only last for the single round, and if you don't win them, they go away. The game ends when the archway falls by losing any 2 of the 4 keystones (10, 11 or 3, 18). The inside bets have odds each round which you can check out with the pull of the left trigger. So there is some skill regarding how much you spread your money around, but again, it's the luck of the dice. And each time a number is rolled, the archway disappears. If the number is rolled again, the adjacent stone goes away.
The last game is Spinnerbox, which is fairly dull and requires very little input from the player. It's basically a slot machines game, but unlike usual games that have you press a button to stop a slot spinning, there's really no interaction here at all. All of the spinning is done automatically; you just place your bet and hit "A" and let them spin. If you match two connecting images, you win some money...sometimes. Sometimes you need three of them. Or more, depending on which level you're playing. Some pictures give you free spins, or spin an extra disc for bonus money. As you go up in gambling level, you can access boxes with more discs (more chances to win), but this tends to mean you have to match more of them together to win any money.
They're alright. With Spinnerbox you could basically sit there and hit the "A" button repeatedly while doing something else entirely (like reading a book, or playing another console if you have a 2nd TV). And if you do get into a lot of debt, well, it's your choice whether you want to merge the gambling character with your hero once you get Fable 2. You certainly don't have to at all.
Aesthetically, the games are a little dull. There's not much animation, and the AI you play against during tournaments don't really do anything. But you're not playing it for the animation, you're playing it to win some sweet stuff for your Fable doggie (and your hero, of course).
So if you're a Fable freak, like I am, you should probably get on the ball so that you're out of debt by the time the game comes out in late October.